An under freezer tray, also called a freezer drip pan, is there for defrosting and for any other reason that requires dripping water to be caught. Many models, typically those manufactured since 1987, come with a built-in tray to catch water drips, but if your model does not have a tray, you'll need to get one, especially if you find standing water on your floor.
If your freezer is newer than 1987, it likely has a built-in freezer drip pan. If it doesn't, purchase one from an appliance parts store that's compatible with your model and use a shallow baking tray to catch water until your drip pan arrives.
Freezer Drip Pan Purpose
Freezers require a tray underneath or inside the appliance to catch dripping water. When in defrost mode, the freezer releases water from the melted ice. Any time the temperature of the freezer drops, such as during a power outage or a operation malfunction, the freezer might leak water. A tray, whether built-in or freestanding, catches the water to prevent flooding, damaged flooring (or sub-flooring) or other ruined building materials.
Built-In Freezer Drip Pan
Some freezers, especially newer models, have a built-in defrosting tray or freezer drip pan. It can sit within the freezer or at the bottom under the appliance as a chest freezer defrost pan. It usually slides in and out for easy removal to empty it.
Before starting a manual defrost cycle, empty the refrigerator-freezer tray or chest freezer defrost pan if it has any water in it. During the defrosting cycle, check the tray often. Empty it before it's completely full to prevent it from overfilling. You may need to pull out the defrost drain plug so that water can flow from the drain tube to the freezer drip pan. Consult your user manual for the proper defrosting method for your particular freezer model.
Wash the tray after the defrost cycle with a solution of water and baking soda. Rinse the tray and dry it before replacing it in the freezer.
Other Freezer Drip Tray Options
For a freezer that doesn't have a drip tray or a freezer that leaks water around the installed tray, place a drip tray underneath the appliance. Drip trays are also marketed under the names "overflow tray" or "defrost pan." They are available from appliance parts stores. In a pinch, use a shallow baking pan or other container that fits under the freezer. As with built-in trays, empty the pan often to prevent overflow.
Warnings and Tips
Freestanding water around the freezer can pose an electrocution risk. On self-defrosting models, you usually don't need to remove the tray. The water is typically directed to a system where heat dries the water. Collect excess water from the bottom of a freezer with a sponge to prevent overflowing.
Do not place a freezer where temperatures reach more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit or near a heat source such as a heat register or in direct sunlight. The freezer is unable to maintain proper cooling temperatures in high temperatures.
Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.